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The Department of Health has started posting on its website the inspection reports for community care family foster homes and adult day care centers, moving the agency into compliance with a state law.
Until Wednesday, inspection reports were only available online for one type of state-run care facility. The department’s Developmentally Disabled Division, headed by Mary Brogan, started posting the reports for some of the 295 adult foster homes Feb. 9.
Seven other types of facilities that must comply with the posting requirement, including the community care family foster homes and adult day care centers, are overseen by the department’s Office of Health Care Assurance, headed by Keith Ridley.
He had been asking the Legislature for a six-month extension to start posting the inspections for those facilities — of which there are more than 1,600 in neighborhoods throughout the state — but abruptly changed course last week and said he could make it happen by mid-March.
Lawmakers passed a bill in 2013 that required the department to post the inspection reports for adult care homes on its website starting with those inspections completed after Jan. 1, 2015. The Legislature appropriated $148,000 for two positions and equipment for the department to meet the requirement.
The deadline came and went though, coupled with excuses from health officials as to why the 18-month lead time was insufficient.
Civil Beat, which has reported on the law since its inception, questioned what Gov. David Ige was doing to ensure the law was executed immediately as he’d vowed to do on the campaign trail last fall. In the days leading up to the Nov. 4 election, Ige said if he won he would “ensure the law is executed immediately because seniors in adult care must be ensured a safe environment when they may be entering vulnerable years.”
His administration now seems to be moving the agency into compliance. Inspection reports for the other types of facilities — which include adult residential care homes, special treatment facilities and assisted living facilities —are expected to go online soon with the others.
“The governor has long been a supporter of this program,” Cindy McMillan, Ige’s spokeswoman, told Civil Beat on Wednesday. “He believes it will be a powerful tool families can use when making difficult, often emotional decisions about the care of their loved ones.”
Without the law, inspection reports could only be obtained from the state by formally requesting the records in writing from the Department of Health, waiting up to 15 days and paying for the copies and time it takes officials to track the documents down and redact certain information.
That’s still the process the public will have to go through for inspections completed before Jan. 1. But going forward, accessing the inspections is expected to be as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, as is possible in over half the country.
The Office of Health Care Assurance has posted inspections for 73 facilities so far.
Many of the reports show the community care family foster homes are meeting state requirements. Others were dinged for minor deficiencies and some needed to do things like provide proof of positive tuberculosis clearance, update their current CPR and First Aid certifications and properly train other adults in the home on confidentiality policies and client privacy rights.
View the reports here.
Read Civil Beat’s previous coverage: